- E-CARE on Sat., March 31, kicks off traditional spring focus on the environment
- Arlington never at a loss for green programs
- Visit environment.arlingtonva.us/earthday for more info
Earth Day rolls around like clockwork each April, but in Arlington it’s much more than a 24-hour spin cycle. The County shines as a role model for sustainability throughout the year, and has for the 48 years since the first Earth Day bloomed.
Recently named the first-ever Platinum LEED community by the U.S. Green Building Council, Arlington has also been honored of late by: the federal government for solar power promotion; the Urban Library Council, plus regional and county government groups, for the innovative lending of energy efficiency testing tools; and the Virginia Recycling Association for implementing year-round yard trimmings pickup.
Arlington led again earlier this year by establishing C-PACE, a first-in-Virginia initiative to connect environmentally savvy building owners with like-minded private investors.
Getting started with E-CARE on March 31
Because one day, one week and even one month can’t contain Arlington’s multitude of green efforts, this year’s Earth Day renewal begins on the eve of April – with E-CARE, the ultimate spring cleanup.
Taking place March 31 in the Yorktown High School parking lot, the extensive community collection event provides stress-free drop-off of Household Hazardous Materials (HHM) like paints, pesticides and solvents, plus electronics – making Arlington safer and healthier. Also accepted: bicycles and smaller metal objects like pots and pans, all for recycling. Turn in old CFL bulbs for a new LED model. Pick up a weather-resistant compost bin, for sale well below retail price.
The County collected some 140 tons of household hazardous materials last year. Other drop-off opportunities are available weekdays and most Saturdays. Another E-CARE event will also be held in the fall.
A vast variety of April events
April in Arlington kicks in with its usual vast variety of farmers markets, parks explorations, naturalist talks, gardening lessons and bike clinics. Find expertly staffed environmental booths at events like the Arlington Home Show & Garden Expo and the Arlington Mill Community Center’s Earth Fest. The Friends of the Arlington Public Library spring used book sale, April 5 through 8, marks another year for what’s considered Arlington’s oldest recycling program, dating back to the mid-1970s. And don’t forget National Walking Day, April 4, with four pit stops around Arlington.
Come actual Earth Day on April 22, Arlington’s green thumbs and volunteer spirit will celebrate naturally with, among other activities, the removal of invasive plants from Fort Bennett Park and Powhatan Springs – part of the continuing effort to reclaim and protect local flora and fauna. Invasives cover 10 percent of the County. Another April 22 highlight: Bikers gear up to spruce up the 17 miles of riding trails that loop the County.
We’ve achieved a lot in the last year
Each effort contributes to the County’s sustainability goals. A few other noteworthy achievements since last Earth Day:
- More than 1,000 trees planted or distributed across the County
- Some 1,200 tons of pollution (1,500 cars’ worth!) stored by Arlington trees in a year
- Some 10,730,000 cubic feet of stormwater runoff reduced by trees
- Some 7,800 tons of yard trimmings collected in the first complete year-round collection
- Five acres of hardened Four Mile Run streambank replaced with restorative native plantings
- Some 5,600 native plants propagated in the County native plant nursery, up from 2,000 in 2016
- A total of 290,484 Capital BikeShare trips in 2017, up 11 percent from the previous year
- More than 3,000 Bike to Work Day (May 18) registrations at Arlington pit stops, up 12 percent over last year
- A post-Halloween pumpkin drop-off that put more than 3,300 pounds of fading squash into the County’s new on-site food scraps composter in Shirlington
It’s easy to predict that, a year from now, Arlington will boast more innovative environmental successes.
Earth Day was created not as a single national effort but as a grassroots movement of interconnected communities. Arlington has worked to make sustainability second nature no matter the subject or season.